My View: Arizona needs to prioritize online health care transformation
By Dr. Kishlay Anand – Contributing writer
After the pandemic exploded last March, health care technology solutions that were previously regarded as ancillary services catapulted to the forefront of care. As a practicing cardiologist and a part of Arizona’s Covid-19 Response Team, I was more than pleased that Gov. Doug Ducey had previously signed a new law on April 18, 2019 expanding insurance coverage for telehealth services, including remote patient monitoring such as oxygen levels and blood pressure. The law becomes effective Jan. 1, 2021, ensuring that commercial health plans will cover medical services delivered in-person or via telehealth.
According to the National Law Review, Arizona’s prior telehealth coverage law contained a number of restrictions that confused practitioners and ultimately prevented patients from enjoying meaningful insurance coverage of services delivered via telehealth. Both our legislators and our health care community now have an enormous opportunity to embrace the transformation that was accelerated by the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic and continue to support the use of modern web-based technologies in health care.
Thankfully, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just took a major step last month in the promotion of remote patient monitoring. On Dec. 1, CMS finalized its remote patient monitoring regulations for 2021, including guidelines on medical devices for remote monitoring, a revised definition of direct supervision during Covid-19 and clarification on its payment policies. Not only will this help to expand remote patient monitoring access across Medicare Advantage plans, it will also expand access to other virtual services.
Another element of proactive care that shouldn’t be overlooked is the use of care navigators. Care navigators provide patients a direct point-of-contact for appointment and lab work scheduling, helping with drug delivery or any other health-related need. Navigators should be available 24/7 to address any patient concerns by answering their questions and connecting them with their physicians when relevant.
Arizona’s health care plan providers and our legislators should not only keep up-to-date with the latest modern health technologies, but they also need to prioritize usability and simplicity above all else. Patients should always come first, and their needs should be reflected throughout all aspects of their health care coverage benefits. As health care technology continues to evolve, plan providers need to stay current on improvements in all areas of quality care accessibility, including telehealth options, care navigators and easy-to-use remote patient monitoring tools.
When patients feel accounted for and supported when they need it most, providers can further improve their level of care. Patient trust is paramount during the pandemic, and it starts with a thoughtful approach to connected health services.